Tucson Padres: Two reasons to celebrate

Fourth of July extra good for duo after AAA call-ups
2011-07-05T00:00:00Z 2011-07-05T06:02:03Z Tucson Padres: Two reasons to celebrateSarah Trotto Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 05, 2011 12:00 am  • 

A cyst grew on James Darnell's right hand last year, making throwing and hitting awkward for the San Diego Padres prospect.

Rather than undergoing season-ending surgery, he learned to play despite the bruise and scar tissue.

Following a healthy and successful 2011 in Double-A, Darnell received a promotion to Triple-A. He and closer Brad Brach joined the Tucson Padres on Monday before the Fourth of July game against Reno that drew 10,678 fans.

Darnell went 3 for 5 with an RBI double, but the Padres lost 6-5, breaking their eight-game winning streak.

After earning All-Star honors in Double-A, Darnell and Brach are playing in Triple-A for the first time.

For Darnell, his productive season in Double-A - .333 average, 17 home runs and 62 RBIs for San Antonio - is redemption after he dealt with the "stress mass" in 2010. Last season, he missed five weeks and hit .271 between Single-A and Double-A. Darnell, a second-round draft choice in 2008, will play mostly third and some outfield for Tucson.

"Being healthy the whole year and not having to sit out that month like I did, it just makes a big difference," he said. "Me being able to put up good numbers and get consistent at-bats, it's been great. I feel like I can show what I can really do."

Darnell said he was told the cyst would get no worse, so he kept playing and adapted.

"I kinda took the reins off and thought, 'It's not going to get any better, just might as well go with it,'" said Darnell, who had the cyst removed in October. "This whole season it's been great."

Brach, the other newcomer, will close for Tucson. He posted a 2.25 ERA with 23 saves in Double-A and recently earned his 100th career save. He also saved 41 games in High Single-A last season.

A 42nd-round draft pick out of Monmouth University in 2008, Brach has risen to Triple-A in his fourth pro season and has never posted a season ERA above 2.50.

"I've been hearing with the conditions it's a lot tougher of a pitchers' league here," he said, "so (I'll be) trying to keep the ball down and … hopefully make adjustments as need be."

Inside pitch

• Reno, the Arizona Diamondbacks Triple-A team, returned to Kino Stadium for the first time since they were known as the Tucson Sidewinders. The Sidewinders relocated to northern Nevada after owner Jay Zucker sold the team in 2008.

• Monday's game began at 7:10 p.m. after rain had fallen in the afternoon.

• First baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks and pitcher Wade LeBlanc are Pacific Coast League Player and Pitcher of the Week. Blanks hit .520 with five home runs. Blanks' two-run homer Monday in the ninth extended his hitting streak to 21. LeBlanc allowed two hits in eight scoreless innings Friday at Sacramento.

• Starting pitcher Matt Buschmann (sprained ankle) and infielder/outfielder Eric Patterson (sprained wrist) were placed on the seven-day disabled list.

• With the addition of Brach, Evan Scribner will pitch in a setup role and occasionally close, manager Terry Kennedy said.

• Starting pitcher Samuel Deduno is expected to pitch Thursday at Fresno. He's currently on the DL (quad).

• Pitcher Luke Gregerson returned to the San Diego Padres after allowing three runs in one-third of an inning Friday and throwing a scoreless inning Sunday in his rehab stint with Tucson.

Today

• Who: Reno at Padres

• Where: Kino Stadium

• When: 7 p.m.

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